Friday, December 3, 2010
Quo Vadis, my dear nation?
We have the Attorney General, the top law officer of the Government, making statements threatening the judiciary of questioning its integrity when questions were raised on the Government's questionable decisions. The CVC appointment which is per se non compliant with the regulations, that a person with unquestionable integrity should man that office. The CJI questioned the appointment of Mr.P.J.Thomas as CVC based on service jurisprudence. How a person, who could not even be considered for promotion, was appointed as the top officer to oversee the investigation in all the corruption cases in the nation, with judicial decision still pending on the charge sheet which blames him with criminal conspiracy, since 2002?
When the first bench of the nation's top judicial body asked the Government whether the procedure of checking for impeccable integrity was followed in this appointment, the AG retorted if the criterion of impeccable honesty and integrity in appointments to higher positions has to be followed in every case then all judicial postings would come under scrutiny. This is a clear threat to the judiciary, meaning that if the actions of Government could be questioned on the integrity grounds by the judiciary, the Government could question the actions of the judiciary on the same grounds. The question went unasked in the court room was "Does your statement include the appointment of the AG also?" But that was asked by Justice (Retd) V.R. Krishna Iyer in his article in the Hindu condemning the AG for his insinuations.
This is like talking in a political meeting challenging an opponent with embarrassing exposes whenever the opponent questions your activities. Is this the signal the Government is sending to the world that it has scant respect for the judiciary? The kind of signal sent by the Government that any sort of insinuations could be made against the nation's judiciary and still defend such insinuations as abstract legal argument shows the quality of the people manning the Government. This is not expected from a man supposedly of impeccable integrity, Dr.Manmohan Singh. Is he doing all these on his own or is he operated with a remote control? In both cases the nation doesn't deserve either an arrogant personality or a meek personality holding a powerful responsibility.
Someone has picked up the cue from the Government's action in the Supreme court and had justified their actions questioning the trustworthiness of the judiciary and making it official with the UN. It is none other than the infamous human rights activist Teesta Setalvad.
She has, in the Godhra and related cases, sent 2 letters to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, which were originally addressed to the SIT chief, complaining about the poor witness protection in the Godhra cases and even contained information of how her former aide Rais Khan Pathan was bought over by the other side. The amicus curiae Harish Salve said that the SIT was disturbed over the constant airing of grievances to the international body. Of course this could put further impediments with too many institutions with different perspectives monitoring an investigation. When the top legal body of the nation monitors an investigation, another is unnecessary and too many monitoring would spoil the course of investigation.
The lawyer for Ms.Setalvad chose to justify the airing of grievances with the UN body, which prompted the SC take serious exception and at one point the bench asked, "Will Switzerland provide you witness protection and not the Supreme Court?” When Setalvad's lawyer said that her NGO was associated with the Geneva based UNCHR, the court said irrespective of associations, the SC would not allow outside bodies to oversee what it was overseeing. Such an insensitive approach towards a sensitive matter brings into question the lawyering skills of Ms. Setalvad in the first place, which should be a worry of practicing lawyers, though.
If a lawyer chooses to dishonor the court she was approaching for justice, what is the point in still pursuing the matter with the same judiciary? She resorts to dilly-dallying when it comes to appeal against judgments not in her. She tries to paste a picture that the High Court of Gujarat is untrustworthy and she has to take the Supreme Court's order for every step in the case, but yet approaching the UN perhaps to caution the Supreme Court of an international repercussion if she feels she was not given a fair deal. This kind of manipulating the system may work with common man with little legal knowledge and no political or other powers to muster, but when dealing with the Apex judiciary of the nation manipulation means mean attitude.
The reason behind such insensitive activities is the Union Government, as it, through it's top legal representative, questioned the very integrity of the judiciary, in the veil of replying to an incisive question and tried to cover it up as discussing an abstract legal point. Suspicion about the probity and impartiality of the judiciary has been expressed openly by the AG in doing so.
The Government has a lot of explaining to do here. Was that statement by AG reflect the view of the Government? If so, what are the steps taken to check the impeccable integrity and other ethical issues on appointments to highest offices? Or as the AG told it is not a matter of concern, would the Government take steps to amend the law suitably to the effect that impeccable integrity is not a concern for holding any high office in the nation?
The moot question in the mind of common man is "Quo Vadis, my dear nation?" My question is where are you leading the nation, Mr. Prime Minister? If you don't, Sir, please ask your Boss and let the nation know, as we the citizens trust that it would not be a classified information!